The misuse of opioids such as heroin, morphine, and prescription pain medicines is not only a devastating public health crisis, it is critically affecting the administration of justice in courthouses throughout the United States. The number of children in foster care because of parental substance abuse has nearly tripled since 2012, and drug overdose deaths are at record highs. In response to this national crisis, SJI is funding a new Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ)/Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) National Opioid Task Force to examine current efforts, develop solutions, and make recommendations to address the opioid epidemic’s ongoing impact on the justice system.
The work plan for the judicial branch task force includes the following strategies:
- Convening representatives from state and federal government and key national organizations to share existing strategies and identify unmet needs.
- Creating partnerships with entities addressing the impact of opioids on children, with specific emphasis on foster care, assisting state courts in developing opioid task forces, and working with existing state task forces to make recommendations for local response efforts.
- Developing guiding principles that state courts can use for successful collaboration among treatment providers, criminal justice systems, and child welfare agencies.
- Creating a checklist of state legislation, policy, and court rules that aid or inhibit response efforts.